'Whiff' farmer's new business plans

RESIDENTS spoke of their dismay last night after a farmer - blamed by many for a smell which has plagued their village for decades - submitted fresh plans to continue his business.

RESIDENTS spoke of their dismay last night after a farmer - blamed by many for a smell which has plagued their village for decades - submitted fresh plans to continue his business.

Just weeks after High Court judges slapped a ban on production at Rookery Farm in Drinkstone, farmer John Clarke has submitted an application for a certificate of lawful use.

If successful, it would nullify the High Court ruling and has left residents fearing that the notorious smell - dubbed the Woolpit whiff in a neighbouring village - could rear its ugly head again.

The news was greeted with concern among residents who claimed their lives have been made a nightmare due to the odour from the farm.


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But Mr Clarke said: “I will not break the law - I have never breached a planning law in 30 years. Moving the rendering unit is an option but at the moment I am applying for a certificate of lawful use and it is only for the same process we have been doing for three decades.

“You cannot manipulate the planning laws. You either have planning permission or you don't - there is no grey area and nothing has changed in that respect.

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“All I am doing is following the judge's directions - he said he could not make a decision on planning law and so I am taking it to the council.”

Residents had hoped the foul odour would be a thing of the past after Mr Clarke was banned permanently from causing nuisance smells by High Court judges last month .

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “When the High Court made its decision, I think many people in the village thought that the problems could finally be over.

“I have lived in Woolpit for more than 30 years and at its height, during the 1980s and early 1990s, the smell was so bad it would actually wake you up in the night.

“It is not so bad now but we still have some problems in the summer and it doesn't surprise me that there has been a new application.”

Mr Clarke was last month warned he could be in contempt of court if he ignored a High Court order

- banning him indefinitely from causing foul odours at his site and coming into affect on May 9.

The Court of Appeal ruling comes at the end of a long line of legal battles between Mr Clarke and Mid Suffolk District Council.

A council spokesman said: “The High Court put an injunction on Mr Clarke to stop him undertaking industrial rendering. Immediately after that he has put in a certificate of lawful use.

“This kind of application doesn't follow the usual planning process - instead it will be decided by planning officers, following legal advice.

“If it is granted, it will invalidate the injunction made in the High Court. The whole issue has become technically very complex and I fear that it might continue to be fought in the law courts.”

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